The first time I heard this quote was in the movie, ‘Into The Wild’. I remember watching that movie in the second year of my college, in the year 2017 and thinking, what an idiot would say that, I thought to myself.
Isn’t that what we have been fed since the very beginning, go to a good school, get educated, and then go to a college and study something which is reputed enough for you to hold a place in the society and then later, job to job, project to project, a career which has your works tracked in the timesheet of your work life, not as a matter of great significance but a role, after a role, after a role, until you retire someday and hope that the the good values you have seeped in your children, reap to fruition, and they provide for a swift shift to the heavens abode?
That was me at 20. I wanted a career, because what else do people do college for, right? But things changed, soon after the movie and how my experiences enfolded in the years that followed. I am 23 years old now, a graduate and in the job I absolutely love, I have been working for a year now, but, something has changed. I don’t want a career. When Chris in the movie said this, he also mentioned, that a career is more a liability than an asset and that he would just do fine without one.
While my ambitions aren’t as wild as Chris in the movie who cut his cards to pieces, burn the cash, packed his bags and set out in the wilderness of Alaska, it does stem to uproot from the construct of conformity which society makes for you to fall in, in its ‘default setting’ that resists greatness, creativity and disruption of culture. While it would be ideal to want greatness, creativity and disruption of culture in the course of my job which is a building block to a career, I know it for a fact, I am less likely to make it this way for the kind of habits it indulges in from day to day basis, for example, the power of productivity over presence, the rewarding system of mediocrity, and a carefully curated food chain that wants us to step on another to grab a bite.
This isn’t a problem with me alone, but also a few other friends of mine in a creative field, who are not able to find value in their work and are just doing a job, putting those ticks in the checkboxes day in and day out which will eventually result in a career. It says something about our culture which serves dissatisfaction to the workforce at large with their work.
Where did we get it wrong? Was it in the pursuit of education we did not want to pursue, the job we took which we did not want to take, the decision we took because with the motivation of fear and not love? In an Internet age, which is bursting of opportunities and vibrancy, how did we end up in the white-light rooms of lifestyle choices we don’t want to live one more day of?
A job which is suitable for you, desirable for you can make for a good career and a journey, but how easy is it?
In one survey of the World Economic Forum and ORF, called Young India and Work- A Survey on Youth Aspirations, I found a few revelations.
“The survey reveals misalignments between youth’s career aspirations and industry demands. While enterprises expect the greatest increase in hiring in the next five years in sectors such as customer services, sales, information technology support, accounting and auditing, youth demonstrate more interest in pursuing sectors that companies expect less growth in. Youth also demonstrate a strong interest in moving across countries, states, and cities for employment purposes while companies are hiring locally. Further, while companies plan on hiring more contract works in the future, it is clear that youth would prefer to have employment contracts directly with companies.
Education and training choices as well as professional aspirations of youth are influenced by a complex set of social factors. While female respondents’ education and employment aspirations are at par with those of male respondents’ they face discriminatory biases in hiring and pursuing skills development opportunities, have less paid work experience than their male counterparts, and report feeling less prepared for their ideal jobs.
Further, women predominantly report time constraints as the reason for not being able to take up additional skilling programmes. These factors, driven by socio-cultural norms, must be taken into consideration in the design and delivery of future programmes.
The key findings of the survey point to a high level of optimism and ambition among Indian youth with regard to their future. India has the opportunity to build a productive and inclusive future of work in the wake of technological disruption. However, meaningful strategies for managing these transformations cannot evolve in isolation; the expectations and aspirations of young India must be built into solutions for them to be successful.”
It is the fulfilment of work which makes a job enriching, a life worth living. It takes the individual and the collective both, to upskill and evolve from time to time. In a system which has made education a business and job market a rat race, I long for a journey, in the make-shift job markets which want to sell me a career, I want a journey which serves my purpose and makes life come alive as days pass by, not the gasp which announces a lunch break!